In the early 1990s, Mark Thompson took his biology degree from James Madison University and moved to Portland, Oregon, ground zero for craft beer’s growth in America. The natural blend of art and science that is poured into brewing inspired him to take up the craft. After a few years, Mark returned to his native Virginia from the Pacific Northwest, ready to begin creating artisanal beer using his own recipes. He found the perfect spot in his hometown of Charlottesville, VA – an historic storefront on Main Street that was once home to the state of Virginia’s first craft brewing operation, Blue Ridge Brewing Company. In September 1999, Starr Hill Brewery was founded out of a passion for great beer and live music. Named after the local neighborhood, the brewery shared its space with the legendary Starr Hill Music Hall.
Starting out with only a handful of regular employees, kegs of Starr Hill were delivered and sold by hand out of a van - gratuitously known as the “Shaggin’ Wagon.” Since the milestone first account, where C&O Restaurant tapped Amber Ale, Starr Hill’s beer steadily grew throughout the bars, restaurants and music venues around the region. We have been humping kegs and spreading the love at live music festivals since the first Bonnaroo and FloydFest in 2002. In response to the growing demand, Starr Hill moved from our small downtown storefront to a larger facility several miles away in the town of Crozet during the Summer of 2005. The brewery and Tap Room are still based there today, nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Among the most award-winning breweries on the East Coast, Starr Hill has won 21 Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup and Great British Beer Festival medals. We brew 28,000 barrels of beer each year so craft beer fans can now enjoy Starr Hill brands across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. After years of brewing, creative development and promoting on the road, Mark Thompson decided to take a well-deserved retirement in early 2015 to explore new and exciting opportunities. Brand and recipe development leader, Robbie O'Cain, was soon tapped as the brewery’s new Brewmaster. The team here at Starr Hill is driven to make creative and world-class beer every day. We raise a glass to our fans who empower us to do what we love and to the next chapter in our story of sharing great beer and crafting great times. Cheers!